HBO’s The Outsider
Episode 4: “Que Viene el Coco”
Directed by Andrew Bernstein
Written by Richard Price
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Dark Uncle” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Tear-Drinker” – click here
We see Heath Hofstadter— the man we’ve already seen in jail, who cut his throat open— having a breakfast date. Like a normal person, far from who we saw in that cell and so far from someone who’d murder two children. Or, is he? In current day, Dt. Ralph Anderson gets a call from Holly Gibney to fill him in about Heath, who worked at the senior centre where Terry Maitland’s father was living. Heath specifically looked after Terry’s dad. Certainly no coincidence.
Holly’s sent Ralph info on the two little girls supposedly murdered by Heath. Other than that she continues her search. Right now, she’s following a woman, Angela, so much so she eventually gets pepper sprayed. It’s the lady from the front desk of the senior centre. After a little while they do get talking about Heath. Angela talks about the day after the murders, when Heath came to work acting strangely, not even meant to be there on his day off. She mentions Heath coming out of the old man’s room. He fell and Terry tried to help him up, getting that scratch in the process. Things are slowly falling further into place, not to mention with the info about Heath’s mother, putting him in two places at the same time. Just like Terry.
At home, Glory Maitland’s interviewing a home school tutor. She figures out the latest person there is a writer looking to tell “the true story” for the family. So she tosses this lady out. The poor woman doesn’t have enough to deal with already? Glory can’t even go to dinner without hearing people whisper about her. One guy goes so far as to essentially make a threat. Howie Solomon nearly gets his ass kicked standing up for her before Ralph jumps in.
Out in the woods, Jack Hoskins has killed a buck.
But he’s dragged out into the woods and left it. Why? And for whom? Later, we see him a store picking up all manner of different things from a lamp to power cords and all kinds of other items. He’s on a mission, no doubt. He leaves all the items in the woods where he placed the animal’s corpse.
Ralph is going back over the video evidence of Terry, hoping for “a game–changer” somewhere on the tapes. He goes over and over it with a video tech. He looks at the strip club footage from a particular angle and notices something: when the man who’s apparently Terry shakes hands with Claude Bolton it looks as if he’s scratching the bouncer’s hand. Oh, my.
Meanwhile, Holly’s gotten herself in to see Terry’s father, Peter. She tries asking him about Heath but the old guy’s pretty lost in a haze of memory. She attempts to keep going, though it’s not much use. Although Terry does say: “It wasn‘t him.” He doesn’t say much more. He still says enough.
Holly gets more help from former detective Andy Katcavage, in spite of his awkwardness, to try digging up any potential connections between Heath and Terry’s cases. They get a drink together afterwards, too. It’s fun to see Holly in social situations because she’s unapologetic about her quirks— not that she should be apologetic, fuck that. It’s just hilarious to watch how others react to her. (Especially when she drops a smooch on Andy.) Plus, Andy WAS able to find out some info. After the girls were found murdered, the GBI looked through every suite at the senior centre where Heath would’ve been, and they found a DNA match. There was also a pair of bloody underwear found in Heath’s room. On top of everything, Heath’s brother overdosed and their mother crashed her car, killing herself. Not to mention equally fatal fallout in the family of the two girls, “like a plague” had struck.
At the strip club, Ralph chats up Claude to ask about the scratch. The bouncer says he doesn’t remember and doesn’t have anything else to tell him. So, Father Gore wonders: is the sagging faced figure out there wearing a Claude suit right now, doing horrific things someplace else?
“Can’t catch murder—
it’s not a virus.”
Holly’s digging further and finds yet another eerie connection: the woman who was with Heath at the breakfast date in the opening scene, Maria Caneles, was linked, via DNA, to a child killing, too. This is around the time when Heath had taken a trip to New York City, having sent a postcard to his friend and co-worker Angela. One more apparent “child killer” in the mix. Holly reports back to Ralph, letting him know she’s going to go visit Maria at Rikers Island.
At the prison, Holly sits with Maria. She asks about Heath. Maria mentions that she never actually went to breakfast with him. Yet we see ‘a’ Maria having sex with Heath while he was there on his trip, and she scratched him. Once more, issues of identity and murder. We also see Maria’s father and uncle were murdered by the grandfather of the boy she was convicted of killing. Just tragedy after violent tragedy stretching out from these horrific child murders. Maria tells Holly something spooky before she’s brought back to her cell: “What he does can never be undone.”
The kid who stole the white van, Merlin, comes to talk to Ralph. He lied during their first talk. He saw the man who took the van, and the man caught him looking, only standing there staring at him. Merlin can’t describe him, so he tries to draw a rough sketch of what the man looked like for Dt. Anderson. A terrifying sketch in its simplicity.
A woman at the prison passes a note to Holly, so the private eye goes to meet her later. The lady’s name is Idilys Castro. She asks Holly if she believes in the devil— “one or many.” Idilys heard some of what Maria was saying and wants to attempt to help Holly in understanding better. They talk about what amounts to tales of the boogeyman in various cultures. Specifically, they talk of “el Coco.” It likes to take the child, but it also likes the lingering pain of those left behind. Idilys calls it “the Grief Eater.” The suffering of the families after the child is the monster’s “dessert.”
So, the sagging faced figure is a mythical demon? Goddamn.
Another creepy and intense episode. Things are getting wilder.
Not only that, the mystery’s so palpable and paced so well it makes The Outsider a treat.
“Tear-Drinker” is next.